We know Kentucky has two projected first-round picks in the upcoming NBA draft, but what about next summer?
Jeremy Woo of SI.com believes Kentucky will have two solid NBA prospects in 2019. He released an early ranking of the top 30 prospects and it includes a pair of Wildcats, although one has his sights set on joining the league this summer.
That one is PJ Washington, who is currently testing the waters. Washington still has a few more weeks to think it over, but SI.com projects him as a 2019 draft entrant after a sophomore season at Kentucky, and the 19th-best prospect in that class.
19. P.J. WASHINGTON, F/C, KENTUCKY | FRESHMAN
Height: 6’7″ | Weight: 230 | Age: 19
Washington was at his best playing as a small-ball five this season, with freakish length that helps compensate for his lack of height. He’s presently testing the waters along with teammates Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel, creating a bit of a quandary as far as playing time for whoever returns. Washington will have a chance to solidify his stock at the combine, but seems more likely to land in the early second round than the first, which could lead to another year of school. He doesn’t have crazy upside, but his skill level on the interior and explosiveness off the floor could make him a quality role player.
ESPN.com currently ranks Washington as the No. 51 prospect in the 2018 draft class, which suggests Washington should be leaning toward a return. Unfortunately, it may be the other way around, though.
Kentucky’s other top 2019 prospect is incoming freshman Keldon Johnson, who is No. 12 on SI.com’s list of 2019 NBA hopefuls.
12. KELDON JOHNSON, G/F, KENTUCKY | HS SR.
Height: 6’6″ | Weight: 210 | Age: 18
Perhaps the most impressive player over the course of McDonald’s All-American week, Johnson is extremely competitive and can be a bully scoring the ball on the wing. While he benefits from being physically mature, he has a polished offensive game at this stage. He’s able to finish above the rim with either hand, hit the three with some consistency and fall back on his midrange jumper if need be. He should have immediate success at Kentucky and potentially parlay that into a one-and-done year, but he may lack the elite upside of some others in this class given he relies more on strength than explosiveness.
It’s a positive outlook for both Washington and Johnson, but it also suggests Nick Richards, Immanuel Quickley, EJ Montgomery and the rest of the team (maybe even Jarred Vanderbilt) are not poised to shine in 2018-19.
Read Woo’s entire ranking here.
Come back, PJ.